Whenever I talk with someone interested in getting into startups, my main piece of advice is to “dive in headfirst and manufacture some serendipity.” What people fail to realize is that most startup jobs never get listed on a company’s careers page or posted on AngelList. Even if they do, it’s still likely the position ends up being filled through their employee or investor networks and not via a cold application. This is why serendipity is so important; you need to meet the right person at the right time. Fortunately, one of the most incredible aspects of the startup community is how open it is, which makes it possible to create your own happy accidents. Go to Meetups and events, tap your LinkedIn network, and tweet or email people you admire about grabbing coffee or beers. Your goal is to build relationships and create an opportunity for serendipity to strike. The way to do this is… just kidding there is no magic formula, sorry. What I can tell you about is the process I used when I was searching for my job after college, which will hopefully be helpful in getting you started.
Your first step should be to identify what type of startup interests you. Start with B2B or B2C. Next decide if you’re interested in SaaS, Marketplaces, eCommerce, etc. Finally think about what vertical: healthcare, sports, food, etc. The more specific you can get, the better. If you really have no idea, it might be good to focus on companies with good investors and experienced entrepreneurs on the team. This helps ensure that the relationships you’re working to build will have the best chance of being helpful. The next step is to create some targeted lists based on the startup profile you created. My list suggestions would be: companies you’re interested in and their employees, entrepreneurs or investors you admire, Meetups and local events. Remember, the name of the game is quality, so try to keep your lists short and ultra-relevant to the startup profile you’re interested in.